1. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard The Maytrees is one of my favorite novels. I’ve made my way though most of DIllard’s writing, both fiction and non. This book is less instructional and more personal than other books on writing I’ve been reading. A collection of essays, The Writing Life outlines Dillard’s utter dedication to the craft over the span of her career. Her attention to detail is impossible to miss, leading the reader to a deeper appreciation for her seemingly effortless prose. Moments of dark solitude are punctuated by the occasional transcendences that make writing worth it.
2. Interior States by Meghan O’Gieblyn Another Greenlight find, I snatched this off the new nonfiction table during the store’s anniversary sale. The collection of essays springs from an exploration of Christianity and life in the Midwest. While lots of books on Christianity approach the idea from within, O’Gieblyn writes from the outside as a recent agnostic. Her essays on Christian music and visiting The Creation Museum were two of my favorites. There’s a brutal honesty in every essay, an unwillingness to romanticize or gloss over her conservative upbringing and eventual detachment from faith.
3. Vactionland by John Hodgman A fellow Park Slope resident, I was introduced to John Hodgman via Slope Cellars. I’d seen his book in my favorite book stores and picked it up when I was out with my mom. In the spirit of my recent memoir obsession, this book was the perfect pick. I loved the first half, totally charmed by Hodgman’s voice. I read mostly female authors, so it was interesting to read from a male perspective for a change. The book explored themes of growing up and grief and the way time changes even the most certain of things.
4. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr Get used to seeing Mary Karr in these lineups. Her books have been on steady rotation for a few months now. I picked up this book maybe three years ago from the library, but only skimmed it. Reading it a second time was a lovely experience. Somewhere between On Writing and Bird by Bird, this book offers loads of practical advice on writing. And Mary Karr’s voice isn’t lost in the practicality, thankfully. Also, there’s a master list of memoirs in the back that I can’t wait to get started on. Lots of excerpts from pillars of the genre are scattered throughout the book, as well.
5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris Already a huge fan of Sedaris, I have no idea how I missed his most popular book to date. I started on Sunday afternoon and was halfway finished by Monday night. His writing, once you get acquainted to his tone, is so impossibly easy to read. His tone is friendly and hilarious-I mean laughing on the train hilarious. And usually, “humor” writers can feel a bit off for me, but with David Sedaris, it feels almost accidental. He just happens to be the funniest writer of our time. I love Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and can’t wait to start Calypso.